“In the state of Washington, under a near constant cover of clouds and rain, there’s a small town named Forks. Population, 3,120 people. This is where I’m moving.”
The Dodge Caravan pulls up at the Forks Chamber of Commerce beside two red trucks I immediately recognize as the film and book versions of Bella’s prized Chevy pick-up. Of course, these warrant a photo op before I step inside what feels like the bedroom of my teenage self’s dreams. Amongst the life-size cardboard cutouts of the famous bloodsuckers and the wacky keepsakes, there’s a world map where visitors can stick a pin to mark where they’re from. But it’s tricky to find space; at the peak of Twilight mania in 2010, the logging town welcomed 72,900 visitors.
After chatting all things immortal with a group of tourists, the enthusiastic attendant asks if I need any help.
“I think I’m good,” I say. I’m a dedicated planner and have my self-guided Twilight tour meticulously mapped out in advance.
She smiles and hands me a few pieces of paper “just in case”. Between examining Carlisle’s scrubs and attempting to catch the iconic apple like Edward did in the cafeteria, I leaf through the handouts. One catches my eye; the story of how Stephenie Meyer settled on the town of Forks as the home of her epic fantasy saga:
For my setting, I knew I needed someplace ridiculously rainy. I turned to Google, as I do for all my research needs, and looked for the place with the most rainfall in the U.S. This turned out to be the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. I pulled up maps of the area and studied them, looking for something small, out of the way, surrounded by forest… And there, right where I wanted it to be, was a tiny town called “Forks.”
But today, the Olympic Peninsula isn’t rainy. Not even a little bit. Not even at all. In fact, the sky is a clear cornflower as I whizz by Charlie’s police station, Carlisle’s parking spot at Forks Hospital, and Forks High School where the Cullen kids surely would’ve had to fake an absence on a day like today.
After lunch at a local diner and an abysmally low score on the Twilight quiz given to me by the lady in the Chamber of Commerce (why, oh why couldn’t I remember what material Bella’s driveway was made of?), I stop at the Forever Twilight in Forks Collection, a – you guessed it – Twilight museum located by the town’s only set of traffic lights. The exhibition advertises itself as “the world’s largest collection of Twilight Saga screen-worn costumes and actual props” and it lives up to its name. It boasts a fan-made patchwork quilt crafted from Twilight t-shirts, actual costumes from the movie (including the questionable khaki bowling shirt Bella wore on her first day at Forks High), and an artfully arranged collection of international copies of the books that just how far the obsession with the Pale Ones reached.
By sundown, I’m more exhausted than Bella after racing through the cobbled streets of Italy to stop Edward from getting himself on the Volturi’s naughty list so I check in to my motel (where I tick the ‘yes’ on the slip that asks ‘Are you here for Twilight?), order Ed Bread and Porta-Bella Mushroom Ravioli (the meal Bella ordered on her first date with Edward when she was really supposed to be dress shopping with her gal pals), and hunker down for a romantic night-in with New Moon. Sure, the Ed Bread isn’t the only cheesy thing about my day but for any former Twilight fan with a sentimental heart, a visit to Forks, Washington is a must.